If I were to go back in time and tell my nine year old self that I’d be able to guess the grade of sandpaper by touch alone, I think I would have thrown my Tamagotchi on the ground and fled the room in a fit of humiliation. But that was 1993, and I thought Tamagotchis were cool.

Sandpaper is paper covered in sand. Self explanatory. It’s famous for smoothing edges and flattening uneven grain. There are very few things you can make in a woodshop that don’t, in some way, involve sandpaper. For such a simple invention, it has never become redundant. I can respect that. Sadly, despite all this, I don’t enjoy it. I am always trying to reduce the amount of sanding I have to do. It’s exhausting and to be honest, it hurts my arms. I find it dull. It’s the iceberg lettuce of woodworking. I’m not sure why I don’t enjoy it. I think the monotony has something to do with it. Sanding is more of a stepping stone, and most people just want to get to the other side of the river.

I want to enjoy it, but there only exists a few moments where this is possible. If I’m particularly disciplined… and I have lots of time… and there is nothing else to do… sanding can be quite therapeutic. It shocks me every time. If I focus my mind just on the sanding, clear my head and put away my phone, I can get lost in a strange kind of ‘sawdust meditation’. When this happens I find myself on that stepping stone in the middle of the river, actually enjoying the view!

Then as quickly as it came it disappears. My arms begin to hurt, I remember why I don’t like it and I go inside for a cup of tea.

Meditation over.

Sandpaper can do wonders for your enlightenment, but nothing beats a cup of tea.


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